Raquel Justo, Leila Ben Letaifa, Cristina Palmero, Eduardo Gonzalez-Fraile, Anna Torp Johansen, Alain Vazquez, et al. (2020). Analysis of the Interaction between Elderly People and a Simulated Virtual Coach, Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing. AIHC - Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing, 11(12), 6125–6140.
Abstract: The EMPATHIC project develops and validates new interaction paradigms for personalized virtual coaches (VC) to promote healthy and independent aging. To this end, the work presented in this paper is aimed to analyze the interaction between the EMPATHIC-VC and the users. One of the goals of the project is to ensure an end-user driven design, involving senior users from the beginning and during each phase of the project. Thus, the paper focuses on some sessions where the seniors carried out interactions with a Wizard of Oz driven, simulated system. A coaching strategy based on the GROW model was used throughout these sessions so as to guide interactions and engage the elderly with the goals of the project. In this interaction framework, both the human and the system behavior were analyzed. The way the wizard implements the GROW coaching strategy is a key aspect of the system behavior during the interaction. The language used by the virtual agent as well as his or her physical aspect are also important cues that were analyzed. Regarding the user behavior, the vocal communication provides information about the speaker’s emotional status, that is closely related to human behavior and which can be extracted from the speech and language analysis. In the same way, the analysis of the facial expression, gazes and gestures can provide information on the non verbal human communication even when the user is not talking. In addition, in order to engage senior users, their preferences and likes had to be considered. To this end, the effect of the VC on the users was gathered by means of direct questionnaires. These analyses have shown a positive and calm behavior of users when interacting with the simulated virtual coach as well as some difficulties of the system to develop the proposed coaching strategy.